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# Arithmetic expressions: singular or plural?

2018-04-01 15:26:56

Five and two make/makes seven.

Five times two is/are ten.

Five minus two leave/leaves three.

Which ones are correct? Could someone explain the logic behind them?

Thanks in advance.

You will generally hear the singular verb. I doubt that language can be explained in terms of logic.

5 + 2 = 7 means that the two expressions denote the same number.

Now obviously, if we look at the left hand side of that equation in terms of the number of symbols used, we see three and, if we focus on the number of symbols, we shall say the numerals for five and two joined by a plus sign represent the same number as the numeral for seven. Note the plural verb.

If on the other hand we focus on what the symbols mean, we shall say the number formed by adding five and two is seven. Note the singular verb.

The language used tends to follow what we are trying to convey. If we are trying to convey the number of symbols used, we shall use the plural. If we are to convey the

• You will generally hear the singular verb. I doubt that language can be explained in terms of logic.

5 + 2 = 7 means that the two expressions denote the same number.

Now obviously, if we look at the left hand side of that equation in terms of the number of symbols used, we see three and, if we focus on the number of symbols, we shall say the numerals for five and two joined by a plus sign represent the same number as the numeral for seven. Note the plural verb.

If on the other hand we focus on what the symbols mean, we shall say the number formed by adding five and two is seven. Note the singular verb.

The language used tends to follow what we are trying to convey. If we are trying to convey the number of symbols used, we shall use the plural. If we are to convey the number represented, we shall use the singular.

2018-04-01 15:45:35